The CSA season begins!

CC CSA wk1

Look at that wonderful produce, right? THAT is our first week’s haul from the farm City Commons CSA. And this is only the beginning; it’s week 1 of a 20-week growing season. Our box contained sugar snap peas, oregano, dill, mint, garlic scapes, tender young Hakurei turnips, Swiss chard, and a big bunch of mixed salad greens. Stay tuned for the progress, and of course I’ll be writing about what we do with the abundance.

Ask just about anyone, and they’ll agree that they want to eat better – but it can be very hard to change habits of shopping and cooking. Several years ago, we decided to jump into change: we joined a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Think of it as a subscription farm, or an organic farm co-op. We pay a fee at the beginning of the growing year. In return, every week, we get lovely produce: our fair share of what is produced on the farm.

In that first year, we had very little idea of what to expect. Oh, sure, we knew that lettuce grows best in cool weather, and tomatoes like it hot and sunny. But what would be in our box every week? What would we -do- with it?  It was like one of those chef tests: here’s a box of ingredients. Now make something! Every week, what was in our box changed. My focus as the household cook changed from making a list and shopping for things, to getting a surprise bunch of stuff, and deciding what I could make from it. It became almost a game: let’s use this up before the next box comes in!

Our meals have become increasingly focused around the best vegetables we have ever eaten. We learned to eat local stuff in season – this means peas in the spring when it’s still cool, tomatoes in August when they’re bursting with flavor. I started canning and freezing just to keep up with the glut. I learned that pesto freezes very well in round puck-like shapes, and in ice cube trays, and that a cube or three of frozen pesto is a wonderful addition to a wintertime soup. I learned that making pickles is much, much easier than I ever thought it was. I learned to look for canning jars at garage sales: if they’re not cracked or nicked, they’re good to go! Love those 10 cent jars.

Every Tuesday from now until the end of October, I’ll be driving to my pickup site at one of the six farms, find my box of goodies, and bring it home to the kitchen. I’ll sort it out while thinking about how I’ll use this week’s haul. By the time Hubby is home from work, the plan will be ready, and chances are I’ll be canning something just about every week from June til October. In the fall, when the farm’s harvest is complete, we’ll bring home potatoes, onions, and squash to store and eat through the winter.

I’m looking forward to sharing it here.

Here are some ideas from this week’s box of abundance: